Cruise Holidays - Attheta Travel

I am proud to be certified by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) as an Elite Cruise Counselor. The Cruise Counselor Certification Program is CLIA's most comprehensive training which requires agents to successfully complete a number of compulsory training courses and exams, attend cruise conferences, and conduct ship inspections. Anita Thompson, Attheta Travel

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our Last Cruise in Alaska

On a hot summer day, we were looking at pictures from our last cruise in Alaska.
It was a great time: cool days in late summer in Alaska -- what more could you ask for?

The best experience on the trip (beside spending quality time with my wife), was the whale watching tour in Juneau.  Late summer is a GREAT time to visit Alaska!
Every time we go to Alaska, we see something new...  

The experience of a lifetime -- every time!



Click on any picture to go to the album and see the actual photos.

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Ships, Great New Features

The cruise industry is continually topping itself, introducing new ships with features designed to increase guests’ comfort and enjoyment.

One of this year’s new ships is the Avalon Panorama, which sets a new standard for European river cruise ships. Avalon calls the Panorama a “suite ship.” It has two decks of suites with wall-to-wall windows that, when open, give the sitting area the feel of a large, open-air balcony. Each suite is 200 square feet, almost one-third larger than the industry standard. The ship also offers amenities, such as an Internet Corner with Wi-Fi access, a library, a spacious Sky Deck with a shade system, a heated whirlpool and an open-air restaurant. In each suite, you’ll find an elegant marble bath, a flat-screen television and fresh flowers. The Panorama is currently sailing 14-night, Amsterdam-Budapest itineraries, stopping in Vienna on the way. Avalon will introduce two more “suite ships” – the Vista and the Visionary – in 2012.

Like its sisters in the Odyssey Class, the Odyssey and the Sojourn, the Yachts of Seabourn’s new Quest has a spacious feel. The 450-guest ship has a vast spa and expansive pool areas. Among the Quest’s 225 suites, 90 percent have private verandahs. All have separate sleeping and living areas and granite baths with bathtubs, separate showers and double sinks. There are walk-in closets, iPod and MP3 connections, and personal refrigerators stocked according to the preferences of each guest. Seabourn is known for its spas, and the spa on the Quest offers an herbal bath facility, an aroma steam bath and a Kneipp walk.  This form of soothing hydrotherapy involves walking through basins of water at various temperatures and pressures.

Guests can work up an appetite enjoying the water sports available at the unique onboard marina, then choose from four gourmet dining venues. The Quest is now sailing seven-day Eastern Mediterranean cruises, and will cross the Atlantic to Ft. Lauderdale for a series of Caribbean voyages this fall. In January 2012, the Quest and its lucky passengers will depart on the ship’s first world cruise.

To find out how to get on board, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rick Steves: Travel Smarter With a Smart Phone

Great information - to read complete article, click this LINK.  The article is written for travel in Erope, but the advice works for any international travel-- including the Caribbean Islands.  The islands may share the North Americian numbering plan with the US and Canada, but international roaming rates can still apply.

Electronic communication, such as disposable mobile phones, cheap and easy Wi-Fi, and social networking, is revolutionizing the way we travel. But the digital development I am most enthused about is the smartphone. My iPhone has quickly become my favorite travel companion, whether it's keeping me on top of my work, keeping me in touch with my kids, or simply keeping me entertained....


Also, the information is posted on our Facebook page. To find our site, search for ATTHETA on your Facebook home page.  Once there, click "LIKE" on page to read our Facebook postings.




Monday, August 22, 2011

Places to Explore Amid the Fall Foiliage

The breathtaking sight of colorful trees along a stretch of blue ocean is part of what makes fall foliage cruises of New England and Canada’s Maritime Provinces so appealing. There are also wonderful places to explore on shore.

Portland, Maine, sits on a peninsula that extends into the beautiful seascape of Casco Bay. It’s easy to spend a day exploring the charming Old Port area, which has cobblestoned streets and restored brick buildings from the 19th century. The original occupants – warehouses and offices for the export and fishing industries – have been replaced by specialty shops, restaurants and pubs. Or, enjoy more of the striking coastal scenery by riding a ferry to a quiet island or taking an excursion to a classic coastal village, such as Kennebunkport. If you love walking along a sandy beach, there are several beautiful beaches just outside Portland, some watched over by historic lighthouses.

If you have just one day to spend in Bar Harbor, Maine, it may not seem like enough. There’s the rugged beauty of Acadia National Park, which occupies much of Mount Desert Island. Rounded mountain summits made of pink granite peek out from slopes covered with colorful fall trees and evergreens. There are more than 50 miles of carriage trails in the park, perfect for walking and biking while catching glimpses of Frenchman Bay. Mount Desert Island is also home to the waterfront town of Bar Harbor, the charming summer colony that used to be reserved for the very wealthy. Walk along the Shore Path to admire some elegant summer homes and inns, then enjoy lunch in one of the town’s many fine restaurants.

Saint John, New Brunswick, may be best known for the amazing Reversing Falls, a natural phenomenon created by strong tides pushing against the outflow of the Saint John River. In a rocky gorge, the river forms rapids and small waterfalls that flow one way during the outgoing tide, then reverse direction during the incoming tide. In addition, there are lovely hiking and biking trails along Fundy Trail Parkway, complete with pullouts that offer spectacular views of the coast. If you stroll through Irving Nature Park before mid-October, you’re likely to see groups of seals sunning themselves on the rocks. If you’d rather stay close to the ship, explore Saint John’s historic waterfront – look up to see a host of gargoyles and other Victorian decorations on the buildings.

To select your fall foliage cruise of New England and Maritime Canada, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Personal Feedback: Palms Resort in Las Vegas


Cruises are our business, but not our only business: we arrange land–based vacation packages.  In that vein, we offer our feedback from our recent trip to Las Vegas. 
We spent 4 nights at the Palms Resort, just off the strip.  We were in the city to attend a CLIA training program that included “specialty cruises” – more about that later.  Since our training was at the Palms, we decided to stay there.  We know they have a GREAT restaurant (Garduno’s), from New Mexico.

Anita in Garduno's


We arrived at the hotel at mid-day on Wednesday.  The hotel is close to the airport and the strip.  The taxi fare (including tip) was $30.  Cost for a taxi to/from the strip is $12.  Better than renting a car…

After four nights, we realized we are not the target audience for the Palms.  We ended up in a smoking room (and it smelled like it) on the 27th floor, overlooking the pool.  We requested a “non-smoking room” when we made the reservation and were offered one when we checked in, but that is not what we got. 

The pool at ground level

The pool from the 27th floor

Strip from hotel room window

The Palms has a beautiful pool area and we hoped to spend some time relaxing, but they play loud music all day long. Therefore, we never used the pool.  The big surprise came later in the week -- little did we know what takes place around the pool on the weekends.  Can you say party and loud music – until 4AM?  We cannot recommend the Palms Resort Hotel. 

  • A hotel employee told us the hotel had recently removed the coffee pots from the rooms.
  • Hotel charges $14.99 per day for internet access.
  • Loud noises (party) from the hallway on several nights
  • Room was large, but starting to show wear

We enjoyed our training and the visit to Las Vegas.  It’s a great place to people watch!  Just walk down the strip on a Saturday night and you have free entertainment.

The Palms was a bust, but the training was great.  We enjoyed learning more about “Coastal Cruises” and “Riverboat Cruising.”  Along with “River Cruises” we have something to offer our customers who prefer something other than large ships” or traditional cruises.
Oh yes, many of the large hotels in Las Vegas are now charging “resort fees” that are collected at checkout.  If you are going to LV, remember to ask about resort fees. 

 


Canal at The Venetian Hotel

Anita at Caesars Palace

Monday, August 15, 2011

What to do if there is Trouble in Port

Political unrest, natural disasters, debt crises and drug trafficking can suddenly flare into front-page news, and unfortunately there is no place that’s completely immune. If you have reservations on a cruise that’s sailing to a part of the world that’s producing troubling headlines, don’t worry, here are some tips:

First, work with a cruise travel professional who can help you obtain accurate information about the situation and provide guidance if you need to assess your options. If you decide to alter your plans, it’s best to work with a professional who can expertly navigate the rules and requirements for any cancellation or rebooking fees.

Second, keep in mind that cruise lines continually monitor conditions in their ports of call and will redirect ships when necessary. For example, many cruise lines cancelled their port calls in Egypt in early 2011 as that country deposed its leader amid mass demonstrations. Cruise lines and their captains are accustomed to visiting alternate ports when security, or weather, demands it.

Third, do some research to understand the true risk of danger in your destination. Images and sound bites on television or the web may present a legitimate cause for concern, but further investigation may show that problems like violence, demonstrations, wildfires or flooding are limited in scope and not near the areas you’ll visit.

Of course, no destination is completely without danger, any more than the city or town where you live. There’s always a chance, however small, that an accident, pickpocket or thief could put a damper on your vacation. So, follow some common-sense rules. Don’t explore on your own; leave your valuables at home; keep track of your belongings; and, on port days, be sure to return to the ship by the specified time.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Port Intensive or Sea Intensive: Which Type of Cruise is For You?

When you think about cruising, do you picture yourself exploring a port of call, sunning on a beach or trying a new adventure like zip-lining or dog sledding? Or, do you picture yourself relaxing in a deck chair, sipping a cool drink in an on-deck hot tub, or watching as the ship’s head chef demonstrates how to whip up a delicious sauce?

Your answer may indicate the type of cruise you enjoy most: a port-intensive cruise that calls on a different location most days of the cruise, or a sea-intensive cruise that spends most days on the open water.

On a port-intensive cruise, the ship usually sails at night and arrives in a new port early each morning. You’ll have time to disembark and explore the port, shop for souvenirs or take an excursion designed to help you experience the attractions, scenery, food, wine or culture of the region you’re visiting.

Advantages of a port-intensive cruise include plenty to see and do, with no effort on your part to move between ports. Popular destinations that offer port-intensive cruises include Alaska; clusters of islands, such as Hawaii and various island groups in the Caribbean; and the Western Mediterranean, where distinctive port cities are a relatively short distance apart.

Port-intensive cruises are great for guests who like a lot of activity, but these cruises can leave less time to enjoy the amenities of the ship, which may include pools and water slides, games, sports, lectures, spas, shops and a variety of dining options and nightlife spots.

If exploring the ship appeals to you, a sea-intensive cruise provides plenty of time to enjoy the amenities and simply relax. Examples of sea-intensive cruises include trans-Atlantic sailings between New York and Southampton, England; cruises to the Hawaiian Islands that depart from the West Coast; and cruises that reposition ships, such as ships that sail from Alaska to the Caribbean at the end of summer.

Keep in mind that you can reduce the activity level of a port-intensive cruise by simply remaining on the ship while your fellow passengers go into port. But, you can’t do much to change the nature of a sea-intensive cruise – the captain can’t change course to visit the nearest port simply because you feel the need to get off the ship for awhile.

For more information about the type of cruise – as well as the destinations, ships and accommodations – that will suit you best, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Update on Cruising to Egypt

During several weeks of political unrest in Egypt during January and February, more than a dozen cruise lines cancelled their port calls in that country, choosing to visit Istanbul, Kusadasi, Haifa or other eastern Mediterranean ports instead.

However, in late April the U.S. State Department replaced its travel warning for Egypt, which advised no unnecessary travel, with a travel alert, which advises U.S. citizens to travel with caution.

Some cruise lines have now reinstated their calls on Egyptian ports such as Alexandria, a historic city that is also a starting point for excursions to Memphis, Cairo and the pyramids at Giza; and Sharm-el-Sheikh, resort on the Red Sea that is one of the world’s best diving spots. Others have decided to cancel all port calls in Egypt, the Middle East and northern Africa through the fall or even until next spring.

 Deciding whether or not to choose a cruise that includes port calls in Egypt or other areas that have seen recent unrest is a personal decision that can be based on many different factors. Your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert can help you by sharing information about a cruise lines’ security policies while in port and contingency plans in case a port become inaccessible.

If you do cruise to Egypt, the State Department recommends that travelers remain alert to the possibility of sporadic unrest. Americans are urged to avoid all demonstrations, even peaceful ones, and to carry identification with them at all times.

If you would like to check the latest U.S. State Department advisories for travel to Egypt or other international destinations, visit the department’s website at travel.state.gov; or, ask your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert for the latest information.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beautiful St. Lucia

In a region of beautiful islands, St. Lucia stands out as one of the loveliest. This volcanic Caribbean island is more mountainous that most, and the forested slopes make a stunning contrast to the blue water and beaches of white or dark volcanic sand.

 The islands’ signature twin mountain peaks, the Pitons, emerge dramatically from the sea, rising almost a half a mile into the sky. Near the base of the Pitons is the town of Soufriere, the island’s capital when it was a French colony. After admiring the colorful buildings adorned with decorative gingerbread trim, be sure to visit the Soufriere Drive-in Volcano. Don’t worry – the volcano is dormant, but there are plenty of steam vents and colorful sulphur pools (but, be prepared for the rather strong smell of sulphur).

The island’s current capital, Castries, is the place to browse for duty-free goods like designer perfume and fine crystal, or for hand-made local crafts and souvenirs.

Pigeon Island has served as the home of Carib Indians, a hideout for pirates and a battlefield where the French and the English fought for control of St. Lucia. Visit the museum on the island, located in the restored British officers’ mess building, to learn more about its history. A hike to the ruins of Fort Rodney will provide great views.

 Anse de Pitons, the beach nestled between the twin peaks, is a good place to swim, snorkel or dive. The snorkeling and diving is also great at Anse Cochon, where there’s a sunken ship to explore in addition to a reef teeming with colorful marine life. You can go whale-watching, dolphin-watching or try some deep-sea fishing. Take a helicopter tour over the scenic island, or stay on the ground at the public golf course of St. Lucia Golf Resort & Country Club. If you love waterfalls, plan a hike through the island’s protected rainforest to see some beautiful falls.

Cruises that call on St. Lucia usually call on other islands in the Windward and Leeward Groups of the Western Antilles, such as Martinique, Guadeloupe and St. Kitts. To learn more about how you can cruise to these and other gorgeous Caribbean islands, talk with your Cruise Holiday’s personal cruise expert.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Moana Jet Boat Tour on Bora Bora


Our thanks to Duane Eng for sharing his experience of the Moana Jet Boat tour on Bora Bora.  Per Duane, "this was our favorite excursion."







The trip had three stops:
 
·       Sting Ray & Reef Shark swim 3-4 feet of water.

·       Snorkel of the Intercontinental Bora Bora - about 15-20 feet deep.  Lots of fish, and down below, the moray eel

·       Shallow water towards a motu (airport side).  Very shallow warm water 4 feet deep. 



Shallow water snorkeling
 






Snorkel with the Sting-Rays and reef sharks in 3.5-4 ft water. Off the coast of the Bora Bora Hilton on the outside of the Bora Bora Lagoon.








Snorkeling off the Intercontinental Hotel, Bora Bora. Water is 15-20 ft deep.